CNN: Corker (maybe) thinking about reversing course on retirement

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker tours Mars Petcare on Aug. 22, 2017. (Photo credit: Corker Senate office.)

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker tours Mars Petcare on Aug. 22, 2017. (Photo credit: Corker Senate office.)

Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker has been talking to colleagues about the possibility of reconsidering his announced retirement, according to a CNN report.

The details are sketchy, even within the context of the anonymous rumor mongering typical of Washington political reporting. CNN says there’s disagreement about whether Corker has initiated the talks about his political future, or if the subject just came up when it was raised by colleagues who want him to run again.

(Update: The Tennessean has spoken to a top Corker adviser, who says: “It is true that Senator Corker has been encouraged by people across Tennessee and in the Senate to reconsider his decision, but at this point nothing has changed.”)

According to CNN’s original report, the re-election the issue has been discussed several times with fellow Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and with South Carolina Sen. Linsey Graham,

It’s also come up with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, which CNN finds to be a dilemma because it says the GOP establishment has “quickly rallied behind Rep. Marsha Blackburn” since he announced he wouldn’t run again and that she already has “support across the party’s often fractious spectrum.”

That’s a narrative the Blackburn camp certainly would endorse, but the facts on the ground may be a bit more complicated. Blackburn faces Rep. Stephen Fincher, the gospel signing farmer from Frog Jump, in the primary. Fincher hasn’t quite hit the ground running at the speed and organization of the Blackburn camp, but he’s hardly a non-factor in the race. And if Corker were to get back in with just over five months until early voting, it would throw the whole contest into disarray.

One major factor in Corker’s decision may be how he could weather the political fallout in a GOP primary from his past feud with President Donald Trump. CNN says that McConnell feels that if Corker really wants to return to the race, he would need to get Trump to give his stamp of approval. But according to one of the CNN sources, “Trump will have no part in it.”

Interestingly, the Blackburn-supporting Club for Growth polled a hypothetical matchup between the congresswoman and the incumbent in January and found that Blackburn would have 63-25 lead over Corker. The survey did not ask about a theoretical three-way race.

Note: Corker still had more than $6.2 million in his campaign account as of Dec. 31, according to his latest filing. That’s after refunding almost $1.8 million in donations during the last quarter of 2017.

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